A Somali woman who was sentenced to nine years' jail, with a non-parole period of six years, for trying to hijack a flight from Blenheim to Christchurch six years ago has had an appeal against her minimum period of imprisonment dismissed.
Asha Ali Abdille, then 36, earlier this month appeared in the Court of Appeal challenging the minimum period of imprisonment.
She was in August 2010 sentenced to nine years' jail with a non-parole period of six years for trying to hijack the flight on February 8, 2008.
Abdille's notice of appeal was limited to challenging the minimum period of imprisonment, but when she appeared in the Court of Appeal she only argued against conviction.
She had already been in custody for 2-1/2 years when sentenced and said, through an interpreter, that she pleaded guilty after police pressure.
"... they said unless you say that I hijack plane, we will take you to America and you will be shot. Executed," she said.
"I (did) not hijack the plane. The police asked me to say that."
Abdille, who represented herself in the Court of Appeal after firing trial lawyer Elizabeth Bulger, went on to claim there was a conspiracy between Immigration and the police; she had come to New Zealand in 1994 believing the Government was "giving us a land and helping us".
Abdille claimed the knives she was carrying on the fateful flight were simply cutlery she was taking to her sister, who was trying to set up house in Christchurch. She also had forks and plates, and the pilot had inspected her luggage, she said.
In the Court of Appeal ruling released today (Thur) Justices Mark O'Regan, Alan MacKenzie and Raynor Asher said Abdille addressed the Court of Appeal but did not address the point raised on appeal.
There was no evidence to support her claims, and they were satisfied the conviction should not be called into question.
At the appeal hearing counsel Mary Kennedy, who was appointed by the court to represent Abdille's interests in the absence of a lawyer, said there was no need for the court to set a minimum non-parole period, and certainly not the maximum one, as there was a possibility Abdille could be effectively treated for her mental health problems.
However, Abdille said Ms Kennedy's comments were "another assault".
"I'm not mad. I was not brought here as a mental health patient."
Ms Kennedy suggested a further report into Abdille's mental health should be compiled, but the justices found this was not necessary in order to resolve the appeal.
"The evidence before us gives no basis for confidence that, even if anti-psychotic medication were effective in the case of Ms Abdille, she would accept such treatment."
Justice Christine French, in sentencing Abdille at the High Court in 2010, was right to see the requirements of deterrence, denunciation and community protection as demanding a protective response, the Court of Appeal decision said.
"We see the imposition of a six year minimum non-parole period as appropriate in those circumstances."